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Want a Great Onboarding Experience? Understand Your Audience

April 11th, 2017 Comments off
onboarding experience

The world is full of HR buzzwords. Onboarding is one of them.

The fact that onboarding is a buzzword in HR doesn’t mean it’s without importance or merit. It simply means that it’s hard to do, but we understand the importance. That means that a lot of people talk about it, but few do it well.

To get a real game plan together related to onboarding, you need to understand multiple angles – including the difference between transactional and transformative onboarding, generational differences related to onboarding expectations and how to use your ongoing employee onboarding process to your advantage in recruiting.

Tired of your onboarding feeling like a buzzword? Great – let’s map out how to make your onboarding experience relevant to your company without having to hire another full-time employee to handle it.

Transactional vs. Transformative Onboarding

See what I did there? I added some more buzzwords! Transformative is a big word when it comes to onboarding, but it simply means that you’re doing more than handling transactions when getting new talent started with your company.

Most companies sit employees down, cover policy, benefits, payroll and get 109 forms signed in three hours and call it onboarding. This transactional side is important, but if that’s all you do you’ll never realize the full potential of onboarding.

The goal of any new hire onboarding process should be to minimize the amount of time spent on boring topics and doing paperwork. Get as efficient as you can with those items (use technology) and then move to things that can strengthen the bond new employees feel with your company.

Examples of transformative onboarding include the following:

  • Bringing in focused guest speakers to talk about your culture.
  • Linking new employees with guides/sherpas/mentors that will meet with them consistently in their first 90 days to provide encouragement/support.
  • Starting the goal-setting process of what each new hire wants to accomplish in their first 90/180 days with your company. Including the new hire’s manager in this is a great way to link onboarding with your broader talent strategy.

 

You’ve got your own examples for what “transformative” onboarding looks like. As long as you’re doing something besides popping a phone-book size of paperwork down in front of the new employee, you’re probably on the right track.

Generational Differences in Onboarding Expectations

As with anything talent-related, generational differences should be considered as you are building your onboarding platform at your company. Here’s what you need to know about generations as it relates to onboarding:

  • BoomersScared of their vulnerability based on their age. Sure, they may be easier to please because they’re happy to have found a job, and unless you truly run them off, they’re probably going to stick. But that’s not the path to engage this group. For best onboarding and subsequent engagement results, make sure boomers see role models their age doing interesting work and being valued as a part of your onboarding sessions (think guest speakers), and consider optional follow-up sessions on understanding benefits (because health care is top of mind for this group).
  • Millennials/ZHopeful that you don’t absolutely suck as an employer, but actively scanning for signs that you do suck. This group is most likely to make a quick change if their BS meter goes off and their needs aren’t met. For best results, you need to automate the transactional (signing paperwork) part of your onboarding process (they won’t respect you if you’re analog) and consider having follow up sessions that are delivered on demand. Those two things will go a long way with this segment (as will goal setting and mentoring programs), but you won’t maximize your street cred with this group without talking about corporate social responsibility. Knowing your company cares about something other than itself is huge toward this group sticking with you when the path becomes rough at work.
  • Gen X This group has no rights, and thus, no expectations. I kid – this is the group I’m part of. Managing to the tastes of Boomers and Millennials/Z will effectively paint the corners of what’s important to this group. Gen X has uploaded a lot of the tech habits of Millennials/Z, but is just old enough to feel some Boomer pain/fear as well. Do what you do to cater to the other generations, throw in a few clips from “Seinfeld” and you’ll manage the needs of Gen X effectively.

 

Cater to expectations of generations in this way, and you’ll automatically arrive at the 90th percentile of all onboarding programs.

Using Onboarding Programs as a Recruiting Advantage

Remember the Circle of Life in “The Lion King”? Of course you do. While I’d love to talk about Simba and company, I reference the song to make a simple point. If you ramp up your onboarding game, you’ve got to think like a marketer and play back what you’re doing to get new employees up to speed as part of your recruitment marketing efforts – think career site, social channels and more.

Think about the onboarding experience as a marketer, and you’ll realize the benefits are circular (thus my Lion King reference). Promoting what’s going on in onboarding shows future candidates you’re better than most, and there’s a vanity retention play for new employees – it feels great to them to be featured. It’s a big circle – of benefits to your brand.

Whatever you do, the first step is the most important. Make your onboarding more than transactions. Once you do that, you’ll see that you can provide tremendous value in your onboarding programs that impacts engagement, performance and retention – the reason you’re thinking about onboarding in the first place.

How to Use Technology During the Onboarding Process

Kris Dunn is the CHRO at Kinetix and founder of HR Capitalist and Fistful of Talent.
Who am I? That’s an easy question – I’m a VP of HR type who has led HR practices in Fortune 500s and venture capital-held startups. I work for a living, and believe that the key to great business results is to get great people, then do cool stuff to maximize their motivation, performance and effectiveness once you have them in the door. As it turns out, that’s my simple definition of talent management. I believe that all forms of HR administration should be squeezed down to the smallest amount of time possible, giving you more time to do stuff that matters. I’m also among the most transparent HR pros you can find, and here’s why. I care so much about the art of HR that I’ve started two blogs (www.hrcapitalist.com and www.fistfuloftalent.com) with the goal of building a community I could learn from. I’ve been putting my thoughts down every business day for over 7 years. 

The Ideal State for Great Employee Onboarding

April 6th, 2017 Comments off
ideal onboarding process

I don’t have an exact number, but I think I’ve probably onboarded close to 10,000 employees in my HR and talent acquisition career. Now, I didn’t always own the entire onboarding process but I played a role in all of those hires!

So, I like to think of myself as an onboarding expert. It’s a big responsibility, as onboarding is such a critical aspect of successful employee tenure. A horrible onboarding experience may drive new employees to look for another job by lunch time, but an awesome onboarding experience will make those same employees want to get out and recruit your next great hire!

It seems like most organizations are constantly tinkering with their onboarding processes, most likely because we feel like we can always make the orientation process for new hires better. I think for me there is never a “perfect” onboarding process, but I definitely think there is an ideal state for which you to strive to achieve in onboarding.

  1. Onboarding has to start before the first day of work. If your new employee shows up for their first day and no onboarding has taken place, you’ve failed that new employee.
  2. Administrative work for the new employee is absent on day one. That means you need to get all that administrative work out of the way before day one. There are a few ways to accomplish this but the best way is to utilize technology and have at least a portion of your onboarding completed online.
  3. Your new employees should know exactly what will be expected of them before they show up to work on day one, and hopefully much longer than that. When I went to work in HR at Applebee’s I was delivered a 90-day calendar completely filled in on what I would be working on and where I would be at each day. Of course, this is exceptional, but it’s not too much to ask that we deliver each new employee at least day one and probably week one.
  4. Give them a “wow” moment. A wow moment is not something that is the same for each employee, so this takes a bit of work. For one employee maybe it’s just taking them to lunch, for another maybe it’s sending flowers to their spouse and thanking them for allowing your team to “borrow” them each day. Maybe it’s decorating their office in their favorite team’s colors and banners. A wow moment on day one is really awesome!
  5. Onboarding can’t end after day one, or even week one. What’s the ideal length? I don’t know, that depends on your organization and the position someone was hired for. What I do know is that if you have a position with higher new hire turnover, you need to increase your onboarding time for those positions!

 

Onboarding is really hard to do well if you’re only using manual processes. Employee onboarding software allows you to do most of the administrative and scheduling of onboarding, which will then give you and your team the capacity to do all the extra things that make onboarding special for new employees.

Onboarding might be the most overlooked aspect of new hire turnover, and it’s something we in HR and talent acquisition completely control! By planning ahead, creating a good new hire experience and using technology to streamline processes, you can get closer to that ideal state of onboarding.

Find out more benefits of using technology in your onboarding process.

Tim Sackett, SPHR is the President of HRU Technical Resources a leading IT and Engineering Staffing firm headquartered in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of combined Executive HR and Talent Acquisition experience, working for Fortune 500 companies in healthcare, retail, dining and technology. Tim is a highly sought after national speaker on leadership, talent acquisition and HR execution. He also is a prolific writer in the HR and Talent space, writing for Fistful of Talent and his blog The Tim Sackett Project. Tim is married to a hall of fame wife. They have three sons and one dog. He is a lifelong workplace advocate for Diet Mt. Dew fountain machines and hugs.

8 Questions and Complaints You Hear When Onboarding a New Hire

April 5th, 2017 Comments off
new hire onboarding

You know the importance of having a good onboarding experience. A structured, technology-driven onboarding process can not only make your job easier, but it can have a big impact on the perception a new hire has of your company.

Having said all that, you may have the best onboarding process in the biz, but that doesn’t mean you might not occasionally get some, er, interesting questions and complaints from new hires.

Here are eight gifs to describe what you wish you could say – or do – in response to those questions you may get when onboarding a new hire:

1. My office is so small, what’s the process for getting a new one?

office

2. OMG there’s so much free food, I may never have to bring in a lunch!

share food

3. I thought my first paycheck would be bigger.

paycheck

4. Oops, I forgot I was supposed to fill out my paperwork before I started.

paperwork

5. Are there good restaurants around here?

priorities

6. Where can I pick up my personal packages?

packages

7. Oh you were serious about me bringing in my IDs?

ids

8. I didn’t know I only have 31 days to complete my benefits.

benefits

Learn How to Use Technology During the Onboarding Process

Answers to 3 Common Affordable Care Act Questions

March 29th, 2017 Comments off
ACA

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a complex law that crosses several lines of business including finance, tax, legal, IT, benefits and HR. Since no one person is an expert in all six areas, it’s natural that questions will arise when it’s time to do your government mandated reporting.

To help ease that process, here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked ACA questions:

  1. Who is Required to Report?

You are required to report if you are an applicable large employer (ALE). An ALE is a company with 50 or more full-time or full-time equivalent employees (FTEs), or a small employer that offers self-insured plans. Both groups are required to report IRS-required data annually beginning in 2016.

Your ALE status for the upcoming year is determined by current-year employee information. Full-time and full-time equivalent employees must be included in the calculation.

  1. Is My Participation Mandatory?

If you have 50 or more employees, you must complete Forms 1095-C and 1094-C.

If you have fewer than 50 employees, there are a few scenarios to consider, depending on your insurance status:

  • Self-insured: You must complete Forms 1095-B and 1094-B
  • Fully-insured: Your insurance carrier is responsible for filing on your behalf
  • No insurance: No reporting is required

 

No matter what, don’t forget to file Form 1095-C. It provides the IRS with information about employer-offered health plans. The 1095-C sends the IRS the information it needs to ensure that employers offering coverage are providing the minimum essential coverage that is affordable as required under the ACA.

  1. Will I Be Graded on a Curve?

There are no grades. You either pass or fail – and failure comes at a high cost. Penalties range from $250 to $3 million for each file return that’s missing, incorrect or incomplete. That includes employee copies.

You can be penalized for the following:

  • Failure to file returns
  • Failure to provide a copy to employees
  • Failure to include required information
  • Including incorrect information

 

Learn the benefits of using an ACA Compliance Partner

How Onboarding Technology Impacts First Impressions

March 21st, 2017 Comments off
onboarding technology

We’ve heard it said many times—you only have one chance to make a first impression.

We typically think of first impressions in relation to people. But, first impressions of places and experiences can leave lasting impressions as well. You can probably still remember the impact of your first day at a new school. Or, maybe you remember the last time you walked into a restaurant and were treated rudely by the host. First impressions can be powerful, and they often set the tone for an experience, either positively or negatively.

This is true at work, too. If your goal is to create an engaging, positive work experience for your employees, it’s critical that it starts with a positive first impression.

An effective new hire onboarding process includes a lot of moving parts, including:

  • Welcoming and socialization
  • New hire forms
  • New hire orientation
  • Workstation and resources
  • Expectation setting

 

These tasks are too often accomplished in a haphazard fashion with some combination of boring presentations, stacks of paperwork and a dash of wishful thinking. This just isn’t cutting it. To make a positive first impression in today’s workplace, there’s one ingredient that has become vital: technology.

Even for smaller organizations, using onboarding software solutions to automate is critical. Here’s why:

  • New hires expect the experience to be automated. We shop, play and connect online. We’ve come to expect that everything that can be automated, should be. When it’s not, it creates a lesser experience. Consider how you would perceive a restaurant or retail store that does not accept credit cards as a form of payment. At the very least, the experience is less convenient. At worst, it makes you want to avoid that establishment. You can’t afford to have your new, excited employee feel this way about your onboarding experience.
  • Millennials demand technology. As of 2015, Millennials are the largest generation in our workforce—making up more than 35 percent of employees. They are also the future, so we have to design our experiences to satisfy their expectations – or face the consequences. According to a recent Forbes piece, “Millennials demand self-service, algorithmically, and crowdsourced customer service options.” They want the technology to enable and assist them as they work through the process on their own terms. The piece also noted that “Millennial customers expect your company’s technology to simply work—so you’d better make sure that it does.” Not only do they expect technology, but they expect advanced technology that works for them.
  • Consistency of experience is key. The process of finding a job has migrated almost entirely to technology. Job seekers experience an array of technology tools as they navigate their way to a new position. They experience company websites, social media pages, job boards, applicant tracking systems, assessments and forms to complete online. The experience, even at small organizations, is technology enabled from beginning to end. So, imagine how odd and disconcerting it would be to step into a non-technology enabled experience upon making the transition from “recruit” to “employee.” It would probably feel a bit like a bait and switch. Not a great first impression.
  • We don’t have the time. Our plates are already full, whether we work as managers or in HR (or both). Even when we recognize the importance of the onboarding experience, it’s easy to drop the ball on new hire onboarding simply due to competing priorities. This is too important not to use the available onboarding software solutions to ensure our new employees get started on the right foot. A bad first impression may dampen the excitement of the new hire or even send them running for the hills with buyer’s remorse. Technology is not only a more efficient way to approach onboarding, it’s also more reliable.

 

Creating a great onboarding first impression is about exceeding your new hire’s expectations. This requires that you create an experience with all of the necessary human touches built upon a solid foundation of technology tools and resources.

The days of paperwork and boring, new-hire presentations are gone. It’s time to catch up.

See a tool that can create an efficient and effective onboarding process.

What You Should Know About Human Capital Management Software

March 17th, 2017 Comments off
human capital management

If you work in HR or recruitment, you’ve liked heard the phrase “human capital management” but you might not have a clear picture of what it means for your organization and your people. After all, buzzwords gets tossed around all the time but they don’t always translate into a meaningful difference for anyone. Human capital management, however, is something to pay attention to because it can benefit everyone from recruiters to employees to candidates.

Human capital management (HCM) requires you to change the way you view your employees. Instead of seeing them as talent that is used to achieve a single company goal, HCM views employees as assets whose current value can be measured and whose future value can be enhanced through investment.

It looks at what an employee can be groomed to achieve throughout their lifecycle at your company, not just the open role they can fill now. HCM also takes into account every aspect of managing an employee and looks to streamline those processes to make your organization as efficient and productive as possible.

Here are four key considerations to remember about HCM when introducing the concept and the technology at your company:

1. It Streamlines Your Workflow.

You can integrate the fundamentals of HCM into your business, but you’ll get the most benefit from technology that addresses your needs. HCM software —which is often cloud based—increases automation for many tasks spanning recruiting, onboarding, benefits administration and enrollment and wellness program management. Instead of viewing talent development as a separate entity, human capital management includes it as part of the total employee experience along with payroll, workforce management, leave management and benefits.

In order to achieve this goal, human resources must maintain an open line of communication with operations and finance. No department acts alone. The more departments can easily communicate with one another, the less confusion there is.

2. Productivity and Efficiency Increase.

If you choose the right HCM software, it streamlines and automates many of the day-to-day recordkeeping processes and allows you to stay in compliance with industry and government regulations. For example, linking time and attendance to benefits administration makes it simpler for your organization to comply with current Affordable Care Act requirements, including the mandate to offer health insurance to all full-time and full-time equivalent employees. This saves time, money and confusion. When you reduce the risk of errors, teams spend more time doing their jobs and less time tracking down information or fixing errors.

Furthermore, tracking an employee’s total productivity in this way allows you to set short- and long-term goals and measure their progress.

3. You Get a Bird’s Eye View of Your Processes.

By linking all facets of employee management on one platform, you’re able to oversee the entire recruitment, hiring and management processes at once. This big-picture perspective—paired with the fact that all the information is stored in one place—will help you make strategic business decisions going forward. It’s easier to consider how decisions affect each department rather than viewing them as silos.

4. Employees and Candidates Get a Consistent Experience.

As an employer, you’re always trying to increase engagement—both with potential candidates and current employees. Curating the right experience is key to achieving both of these goals. HCM software, at its best, allows users to stay on the same platform during the entire employee lifecycle—from recruitment through onboarding and benefits administration. This improves their ease of use, which ultimately increases their likelihood to continue using the technology.

Learn more about CareerBuilder’s HCM solutions.

The Benefits of Using Technology in Your Onboarding Process

March 15th, 2017 Comments off
onboarding process

One of the most common (yet avoidable) failure points in the HR lifecycle is in the onboarding of new hires (or sometimes, internal company transfers). When done well, employee onboarding is thoughtful and repeatable – all new hires have a similar process and current employees are well aware of the process. When onboarding is not done well, new hires report feeling adrift and unclear on their individual, team or company purpose, their workflow or their role definition.

Ideally, the onboarding process happens over a series of weeks or months, not hours or days, allowing for numerous touch points and the opportunity to both unearth and answer urgent questions. A structured program over time also improves the likelihood new hires learn and appreciate the company goals, values, norms and processes – as well as what they’ll need to be successful in their role.

All too often, companies spend time, energy and money to build an “ideal” onboarding process, complete with checklists and company swag, yet those perfectly laid plans aren’t implemented, or the momentum is stalled when there’s a change in the champion of the onboarding process. In the end, new hires often don’t gain the required clarity, because new onboarding stewards may be more keenly interested in certain elements over others. This leads to the dilution of planned onboarding efforts.

How Onboarding Software Can Help

Many companies are leveraging technology solutions to ensure that all key actions are defined, assigned and completed for each new hire – providing clarity and consistency across the organization. These technology solutions elegantly interface with applicant tracking systems and other HRIS software, requiring minimal data entry. What’s more, HR maintains a clear line of sight into the proper onboarding of the company’s new recruits. Many solutions also offer ways to capture new hires’ first impressions, allowing early intervention if warranted.

The advantages to leveraging onboarding technologies include:

  • Improved clarity about the organization.
  • Accelerated networking and social interaction across the organization.
  • Instant tracking status and insight into required follow up.
  • Strengthened efficacy of onboarding initiatives.
  • An increase in new hire employee engagement and the likelihood new hires will thrive in the organization.

 

Finding the Right Onboarding Software

When it comes to finding the right technology solutions for your employee onboarding, you should consider the following:

  • Clarity on the problem you’re looking to solve. Is it improving onboarding? Having a centralized place to know what’s being done and by whom? A reporting mechanism?
  • Elements of your onboarding strategy. Is it straightforward or matrixed? How many people will need access to understand current status?
  • The “owner” of onboarding. Is it the new manager or is it centralized in HR?
  • Hiring projections. How many people will be going through the process?
  • Your need for qualitative vs. quantitative data.
  • Integration requirements with other HRIS software.

 

Investments to improve a simplified technology solution to track and manage onboarding for new hires can go a long way toward improving their employee experience and deepening their commitment to your organization.

Learn how technology can drive employee engagement.

Catherine Malloy Cummings is a breakthrough human resources strategist known for her ability to transform HR teams into champions of revenue and agents of business growth. When she’s not consulting, you’ll find her speaking and writing on aligning the HR function to your corporate performance and profitability.

The Benefits of an Affordable Care Act Compliance Partner

March 14th, 2017 Comments off
ACA Compliance

Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliance is a huge priority for your company. Unfortunately, ACA administration is only one of your many responsibilities and challenges. On top of finding and organizing your benefits data, tracking your employees, determining your responsibility as an employer and the eligibility of your employees, and filling out all those forms – not to mention ensuring accuracy and completion with every single form – you are somehow expected to prepare the coming year’s recruiting strategy and manage all of your employers’ needs.

What’s more, keeping up with ever-changing regulations is a time-consuming (and stressful) effort in and of itself. With everything else going on, ACA reporting might just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Good news: You don’t have to go through this process all by yourself. Consider getting an ACA compliance partner.

How an Automated Software Solution Can Help

An automated software solution for ACA reporting will ensure that you’re meeting all requirements accurately and efficiently. With an ACA expert on your side, you can feel more confident in your reporting, less burdened by organized data and forms, and better able to focus on the rest of your responsibilities.

The right technology can reduce the weight of health care administration and empower you to reach ACA compliance from the convenience of a user-friendly dashboard. The ACA requires employers with 50 or more full-time employees to provide affordable health coverage meeting the minimum standards. Therefore, your reporting software should allow you to quickly and accurately determine the number and eligibility status of your company’s employees. The platform should also integrate with payroll and generate all the employee data needed for completing all W-2 and IRS forms.

Imagine if the ACA reporting season were no longer worrisome and laborious, but straightforward and effortless. The right technology solution can make this transformation happen. Instead of trying to manually keep all of the information up to date and accessible, consider working with an ACA compliance partner to automate and simplify your process, so you can focus on other important matters for your company.

Learn how our ACA Dashboard solution can take the task of ACA reporting off your shoulders.

1 in 4 Workers Does Not Get Enough Sleep Each Night

March 13th, 2017 Comments off
Sleeping and productivity

Employers, beware: The switch to Daylight Saving Time may result in more yawning in the office and a potential dip in productivity. According to a new survey from CareerBuilder, 1 in 4 workers (26 percent) feel he or she does not get enough sleep each night. Ironically, nearly half of all workers (47 percent) say thinking about work keeps them up at night.

Further, only 17 percent of all workers get at least eight hours of sleep a night — which can have a negative impact on productivity, among other factors.

Sleep-deprivation doesn’t just hurt workers – it hurts the bottom line, too. For instance, 3 in 5 workers (60 percent) say lack of sleep has had an impact on their work in some way.

What Does This Mean For You?

Over the past few years, successful organizations have finally started to view sleep deprivation for what it is: a productivity killer and employee health issue. As a result, they’re actively pursuing ways to gently encourage their workers in the right direction.

Here are ways you can improve employees’ sleep quality:

  • Create a company program: Invite sleep experts to visit the office to counsel employees about their habits. Offer stipends for sleep treatments, as part of your wellness program. Stress-reducing treatments, such as fitness memberships and massages, can also help employees become more relaxed at work.
  • Control use of mobile devices at home: Using mobile devices can have detrimental effects on sleep quality. Instead of letting employees bring their company-owned mobile devices home, consider limiting its use to the office only.
  • Create brighter workspaces: Natural lighting helps employees sleep better at night, therefore making them more productive during the day.

 

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How to Use Technology to Drive Employee Engagement

February 7th, 2017 Comments off
employee engagement

It’s hard to find someone who will argue against the importance of employee engagement. An engaged employee feels a strong sense of connection with their work. And, when we feel that connection as an employee, we do better work. Anyone who’s worked at a job for longer than a couple months knows this to be true.

As a result, most leaders are working to crack the code on employee engagement as a way to increase performance. This conversation about engagement typically focuses on the dynamics of manager effectiveness, teamwork and trust in leadership. These relationships are critical to employee engagement.

But in our focus of the interpersonal dynamics that impact engagement, we sometimes overlook how the smart use of technology tools can also have a profound impact on an employee’s feeling of engagement.

In my study of Best Places to Work, one factor stood out as a distinct differentiator between the best workplaces and the rest: communication. The best places to work are relentless about communication as a means to create clarity and reduce uncertainty for their employees.

Technology has provided us with tremendous tools for communication throughout the employee experience. One area that is of particular importance is the new hire onboarding process. The experience for employees in the few weeks prior to and after joining your organization sets the tone for them. It’s a time of both great anticipation but also great uncertainty for employees. This makes communication critical.

Here are some ways you can use technology to ensure your employees start their career feeling connected and engaged.

  1. Use video to help employees understand how to get started successfully. Video is a wildly underutilized tool by employers. It’s become cheap and easy to create – most people have a decent video camera in their phones. Here are some ways you might consider using video before an employee starts:
  2. Eliminate as much paperwork as possible. We all know there will be some paperwork when we start a new job. But, there are few worse ways to make a first impression during onboarding than with a giant stack of paperwork. Use technology to give employees the flexibility and instruction to complete their paperwork when it works best for them. And, if you can eliminate or automate the form, do it. This way you can focus on more exciting things during the employee’s first day.
    • Send welcome messages from the new hire’s team introducing themselves and sharing interesting facts about themselves.
    • Create videos of employees sharing tips for new hires. You could prompt employees by asking them to share what they wish they’d been told as a new hire.
    • Record welcome messages from the CEO or other senior leaders that explain the organization’s values and history, core expectations of all employees, and other information that would help the employee feel connected to the bigger picture.
  1. Empower the employee to manage their own onboarding experience. Create checklists and task lists for employees that include expected completion dates. This both clarifies expectations for the employee as to what their first few weeks or months will involve and empowers them by allowing them some control over how these tasks get completed.

 

Using technology tools to supplement the onboarding process is a powerful way to get your new employees off on the right foot by removing as much uncertainty from the process as possible.

Jason Lauritsen is a keynote speaker, author and advisor. He is an employee engagement and workplace culture expert who will challenge you to think differently. A former corporate Human Resources executive, Jason has dedicated his career to helping leaders build organizations that are good for both people and profits. Most recently, he led the research team for Quantum Workplace’s Best Places to Work program where he has studied the employee experience at thousands of companies to understand what the best workplaces in the world do differently than the rest. Jason is the co-author of the book, Social Gravity: Harnessing the Natural Laws of Relationships. Connect with Jason at www.JasonLauritsen.com

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Why You Should Reward Your Team Players

January 31st, 2017 Comments off
Reward team players

Are some of your employees adding more value to the team? Are you paying attention? Or are you only focusing on individual performance? Research on toxic workers shows that good team players are extremely valuable and avoiding toxic hires is key.

Once you have hired some good team players, you should reward them. Alas, many employers do not reward team players enough. A great example is from professional basketball. My fellow economics researchers Petere Arcidiacono, Josh Kinsler and Joseph Price have looked at the data to find out who the best individual players are, and who contributes the most to team success. What can we conclude from their work?

An excellent team player adds 60 percent more value to the team than a selfish player. When looking at basketball, researchers have crunched the data to figure out how much each player is contributing to team success. Each player obviously contributes their own direct talent, which is what a purely selfish player would contribute. But an excellent team player further adds 60 percent additional value to the team, by making strategic passes to teammates for example. Suppose you add two excellent team players: This is like adding more than three people to the team.

The best individual contributors are not always the best team players. The beauty of measuring both individual and team contributions is that we can rat out the selfish players. And researchers indeed find out that some players, while excellent on their own, do not contribute so much to the team. Among top players, Carmelo Anthony is not a good team player relative to Chris Andersen.

Compensation mostly ignores team contribution. Finally, researchers looked at how basketball players were paid. Was their team contribution acknowledged? Surprisingly, great team players don’t get paid much more than similarly talented selfish players. Professional basketball does not reward team players. Incentive matters, so it is likely that everyone’s efforts for the team would be enhanced if team players were better compensated.

Don’t make the same mistake as the NBA: Reward your team players!

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This Year’s Most Bizarre Excuses for Being Late to Work

January 26th, 2017 Comments off
Retro alarm clock on wooden table

We’ve all been there. That time your alarm mysteriously didn’t go off, you couldn’t find your keys and the train was late. But, there’s another breed of latecomers out there — those who don’t seem the least bit bothered by clocking in late for work.

According to a new CareerBuilder survey, when asked how often they come in late to work, more than 1 in 4 workers (29 percent) admitted they do it at least once a month — up from 25 percent last year — and 16 percent say it’s a weekly occurrence for them — up 3 percentage points since last year.

Most of the time when people are late, the excuses are pretty common. But other times, the story gets stranger — which can make it harder to believe. When asked about the most outrageous excuses employees have given them for being late, employers shared the following:

  • I forgot it wasn’t the weekend.
  • I put petroleum jelly in my eyes.
  • I had to watch a soccer game that was being played in Europe.
  • I thought Flag Day was a legal holiday.
  • My pet turtle needed to visit the exotic animal clinic.
  • The wind blew the deck off my house.
  • I overslept because my kids changed all the clocks in the house.
  • I was cornered by a moose.
  • My mother locked me in the closet.
  • The pizza I ordered was late being delivered, and I had to be home to accept/pay for it.
  • The sunrise was so beautiful that I had to stop and take it in.
  • My mother-in-law wouldn’t stop talking.
  • My dad offered to make me a grilled cheese sandwich, and I couldn’t say no.

 

What Are the Rules?

Some jobs require adherence to a specific schedule in order to maintain quality service levels and precise hours of operation. Other jobs can be successfully performed with very flexible hours. Nearly 2 in 3 employers (64 percent) and employees (64 percent) believe the concept of “working 9 to 5” is an antiquated practice, but more than half of employers (53 percent) expect employees to be on time every day, and 4 in 10 (41 percent) have fired someone for being late.

 

What Can You Do About It?

While coming in late once in a while may be unavoidable, chronic tardiness must be dealt with professionally and firmly. Here are three steps to make sure the issue is confronted before it gets out of hand:

  1. Call your employee into a one-on-one meeting.
  2. Discuss any factors causing your employee’s tardiness.
  3. Write up a list of escalating consequences for tardiness

 

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5 Onboarding Tips For Remote Employees

January 13th, 2017 Comments off
5 Tips to Onboard Remote Employees Successfully

Onboarding employees is one of the most crucial tasks you can undertake as an employer. The first 90 days are crucial to increasing retention rates. Now that you’ve hired the best candidate, it’s time to not only get them set up logistically, but also to make them feel like an integral part of your organization. That’s a challenge — and perhaps even more so for employees who will be working remotely.

Equip yourself with these five tips to ensure that you’re setting your new employee up for long-term success.

1. Make sure paperwork and technology is ready to go before the start date. Oftentimes, the majority of a new employee’s first day is consumed with trivial technology roadblocks—obtaining a laptop, getting it set up, getting various programs installed, etc. Do yourself a favor and get them set up with IT and any other paperwork they need to dive right in on the first day. By preparing ahead of time, you can mitigate the time spent on administrative and logistical setup so you can focus on what really matters.

2. Communicate expectations. For instance, if you expect them to be online and available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., make sure you communicate that up front. It will help employees working remotely to better plan out their days, especially if they need to invest in a work station at home or a co-working space or find a quiet café where they can work from. If you aren’t a stickler for set hours and just care about the end result, then it doesn’t matter what hours they work as long as they have a deadline to turn in their work. Either way, expectations should be set at the outset to avoid assumptions and miscommunication. Keep the lines of communication open at all times.

3. Set clear and concise goals. There’s nothing worse than an employee logging in on Day 1 and not having an idea of what to do or what the big picture of the role is. To prevent this from happening, consider providing them with a written list of objectives, responsibilities and specific goals so they have a clear picture of how you will judge their performance and measure success. Setting goals, milestones and/or benchmarks can go a long way toward helping new employees understand what’s expected of them from a performance perspective.

4. Find ways to make them feel part of the team. Encouraging teamwork and collaboration can be more challenging with remote employees, but do what you can to make new employees feel like they fit in and build (virtual) relationships with the rest of the team. See if they can come into the office — even if it’s just for a day or two during the onboarding process — to meet the rest of the team. The occasional team outing can also boost team spirit and help build camaraderie. Additionally, make sure the new employee knows who to reach out to if questions arise or they need additional help.

5. Offer training and development. Employees entering your organization will need to be ramped up fairly quickly so they can hit the ground running. For remote employees who are not able to make it into the office during onboarding, make sure you have in place virtual training and/or workshops to get them up to speed as quickly and efficiently as possible. Whether it’s looping them in on HR protocols or ramping them up on the tools/technology your organization uses, having it readily available and on-demand is crucial.

Do you manage remote workers? What is your biggest challenge? Do you have a tip for other employers? Tweet your response and tag @CBforEmployers.

How to Take a Proactive Approach to Employee Retention

December 28th, 2016 Comments off
employee retention

Ben Brooks, CEO of PILOT

That faint knock on your office door or that ominous 15-minute “catch up” meeting scheduled on your calendar by one of your star performers. Then comes the news you’ve feared and have been avoiding; they’re resigning. You remain calm on the outside, but inside you panic. Experienced managers have seen this horror film many times, and it usually results in the manager trying to convince or even beg the departing employee to stay. This is both likely a bad idea and symptomatic of a lager people management and employee retention issue.

If you do convince them to stay (likely by offering more money) you’ll be setting up an unfortunate power dynamic. You may have (temporarily) succeeded at preventing them from leaving, but you’ve likely only bought yourself limited time. During this time your colleague will likely have sub-par performance, knowing they were never really appreciated since you only acted once they said they were quitting. Plus, you’ll signal (yes, everyone does talk) to other staff that quitting is how you get a raise and attention. All bad dynamics to create.

Here’s what you must admit: Your best people will eventually leave. If they are great they have lots of options beyond your organization (even if not visible to you), so you need to act as if they are surrounded by opportunities to leave. Second, the labor market is rapidly shifting, both due to changes in talent development strategies at firms (moving from build to buy) and generational preferences. This means that switching companies fairly frequently, once shunned, is now viewed as advancing one’s career without much stigma.

So what do you do instead?

  1. Upgrade them: In short, be proactive and eliminate reasons for your best people to quit. Start by upgrading their job without asking them. Isn’t it a rush when an airline or hotel gives you an upgrade? Give your employees that same sense of importance and delight by engaging them one-on-one to let them know they are appreciated. Reinforce your commitment that they love working for you. Do this by asking about their unmet needs and identifying what barriers they have to doing great work for you. Most importantly, take what you hear and do something about it.
  1. Treat them like customers: Most successful companies do a good job of treating their customers with respect, making them feel appreciated and engaging them in an empathetic manner. Guess what? The same best practices you use with customers work great with your employees. Remember the golden rule – how would you want to be treated if the roles were reversed? Take on their perspective and have empathy when you make decisions and communicate. Show them they’re appreciated by surprising and delighting them, perhaps with an unexpected team outing, a nice gift or even bringing in food. Additionally, invest in their development and growth both with your time – setting clear expectations, giving meaningful feedback, and thoughtfully assigning work that will help them grow, and your resources – by sending them to conferences, on business trips and to trainings.

 

“An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure” rings true when it comes to employee retention. Being proactive is simply smart business. We all know how painful and costly it can be to lose good people. Yet most companies fail to manage talent attrition as a major risk, as they would cybersecurity or changes in their supply chains. When you know something is a risk to your company, in particular if it is likely, has material impact, and can be mitigated, you do something about it. Your best people leaving should be no different.

As a bonus, when you do prevent attrition risk you get the upside of increased engagement and productivity, literally like being allocated additional headcount to get more work done. Plus, it is far easier to raise expectations of staff and hold them accountable when you have a significant goodwill “deposit” from showing them you care and being thoughtful.

As you start to think about what being a great manager in 2017 looks like, I strongly encourage you to take on the satisfaction and retention of your best employees as a top priority.

Ben Brooks is the Founder & CEO of PILOT, the NYC-based tech startup focused on helping managers retain their best people. Leveraging on-demand and engaging technology, PILOT mimics working with an executive career coach by fusing process and content together into an action-oriented and insightful digital experience. PILOT’s newest invention is called “The Brand Crafter,” an interactive workshop designed to help define and expand your professional brand. Learn more at www.pilot.coach, say hello at hello@pilot.coach, or tweet Ben at @benbrooksny.

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8 Last-Minute Holiday Gifts for Employees

December 16th, 2016 Comments off
gifts for employees

While many would agree this has been a looong year (#goodriddance2016), the holidays still crept up rather quickly. If you panicked when you saw that wrapped gift on your desk because you realized you have yet to purchase holiday presents, here’s a quick and dirty guide to some easy-to-buy – but also universally loved – holiday gifts for employees.

  1. Subscription box: Who doesn’t enjoy getting a gift in the mail every month? That’s what’s so great about subscription boxes – it’s the gift that keeps on giving. There is a subscription box for everything these days, from beauty supplies to pet toys. And the best part is you can purchase these online in a matter of minutes.
  2. Gift cards: While this might not be the most original idea, let’s be honest, most people would prefer to receive gift cards (over, say, a company-branded mug). The effort here is being thoughtful about the type of gift card each of your employees would appreciate based on their interests.
  3. Day or half day PTO: While every company has different policies about this, giving your team the gift of a “free” day or half day off of work is sure to surprise and delight them. You may want to request that they give you an advance heads up to ensure they aren’t all taking the same days off and you’ll have adequate support in the office.
  4. Wine: Not much explanation needed here. While you’re at it, throw in a cool bottle stopper or a cheese board to complete the gift.
  5. Travel accessories: Is most of your team heading out for the holidays? Make traveling a little easier by getting them some travel accessories, such as a fun luggage tag, a unique passport holder or a stylish neck pillow.
  6. Streaming stick: Show your employees you’re not a regular boss, you’re a cool boss, by giving them a streaming media player, such as the ones from Roku or Amazon Fire. Since more people have started moving away from standard cable and toward internet TV, this is sure to be a hit.
  7. Insulated bottle: While on the surface this may seem like one of the more boring gifts for employees, these days insulated bottles have become almost a fashion accessory. Consider the ones by S’well, for example, which come in a variety of cool designs.
  8. Grocery or restaurant delivery: You can’t go wrong with giving the gift of food delivery, but it’ll be especially appreciated during the winter months when going outside is avoided as much as possible. More and more of these grocery and restaurant delivery services are offering gift cards, so it should be pretty easy to find ones that deliver to your employees.

 

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Is it Time to Retire Office Dress Codes?

December 9th, 2016 Comments off
Two pairs of shoes – new business shoes and old tennis shoes

You don’t need to have been in the workforce very long to recognize that when it comes to how people dress for work, trends come and go pretty quickly. Where once offices were filled with people in borderline formal attire, nowadays most offices adhere to a much more relaxed dress code.

 

This is at least in part due to the high demand for talent. Competition among companies for skilled workers is fierce, and some employers who can’t afford to compete in terms of salary turned to other intangibles – a more relaxed working environment is a prime example.

The fact that this trend has taken hold is evidence that offering a more casual dress code can be an effective recruitment tool. In fact, according to a study by Robert Half earlier this year, 31 percent of office workers said they’d prefer a company with a business casual dress code and 27 percent prefer casual or no dress code at all.

However, casual dress isn’t necessarily appropriate for all positions or all occasions. For example, individuals in roles that involve representing the company — in front of clients, the public or the media — can understandably still be held to higher dress code standards. And besides, sometimes dressing up a bit can increase self-confidence and help workers get in the mindset to get to work.

But for the most part, employers should consider giving their staff some leeway in the fashion department.

And maybe even enjoy the trend for themselves.

 

Do you think a more relaxed dress code is a good thing, or has this trend gone too far? Let us know on Twitter @CBforEmployers!

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Career Pathing for High-Potential Employees

November 30th, 2016 Comments off
Businessman chooses the right path.  Vector illustration Eps10. Success, career

When you think about ways to increase engagement and boost retention among high-performing individuals, you likely think about raising those employees’ pay, giving them more vacation time or offering more benefits. Though it may not be the first option you consider, however, career pathing could be one of your strongest engagement and retention tools available.

What is Career Pathing?

Career pathing is the process by which managers help employees chart the course of their careers within the organization. Career pathing helps employees envision their career trajectory and understand the steps necessary to move forward in the organization and reach their professional goals.

Career pathing is especially important with high-performing individuals who want to see their efforts pay off, which will help them stay motivated and engaged in their work. Helping high-performing employees create a career path not only helps them reach their potential, it also benefits the entire organization. Consider the following:

Organizational Benefits of Career Pathing

  • It gives you a competitive edge when recruiting. Employees want to work at a company that is willing to invest in their future, and where there is potential to grow. If career pathing is a priority at your company, candidates will take notice and keep your company top of mind when considering their options.
  • It increases morale and productivity. When employees know they have something to work toward – that their work will pay off – they are more motivated, more engaged in their work and, as a result, more productive.
  • It fosters employee loyalty and lowers turnover. When you create opportunities for your employees, they are more likely to stick around to see those opportunities through.


3 Steps to Developing a Career Path with Employees

Like any worthwhile business venture, creating a career path with your employees is often easier said than done. There are many variables to consider – as you want to ensure the career path aligns with your business’ needs – and each career path must be customized to the individual, based on his or her individual strengths and goals. Follow these steps to create a career path for your high-performing employees.

  • Discuss the employee’s career goals. Understanding your employees’ career goals is the first integral step to helping them plan a career path. It will also enable you to align their goals with that of the company’s and explore opportunities to develop these goals within the organization.
  • Put the plan in writing. Career pathing can mean a lot of moving parts, so putting everything down in writing will not only help you and your employees keep track of what needs to be accomplished, it will also help keep you both accountable to sticking to that path. Once you have something in writing, revisit this document once a quarter to check-in, gauge progress, address any concerns or obstacles and make any adjustments needed.
  • Provide the resources necessary to succeed. Help your employees pursue their career paths with the tools they need to move onward and upward. This might mean setting them up with a mentor, letting them shadow other employees or cross-train. Also, be transparent: Make sure they know about other opportunities within the company and feel free to pursue those. Make room in the budget for employees to take classes, get certifications, attend conferences or join professional associations. Consider creating an internal learning and development program. Do what it takes to help your employees thrive – your business will benefit as a result.


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Why Multitasking is an Employee Productivity Killer

November 11th, 2016 Comments off
Why multitasking is a productivity killer

Imagine you are currently working on filling one particular job posting. Your mind wanders and you are tempted to check the number of applicants you got for another job posting. Should you resist the temptation? Research suggests that, as a general rule, you most definitely should! Multitasking kills productivity.

Want to finish projects faster? Do them one at a time.
So suppose that finishing Project A takes one week if you concentrate on it, and Project B also takes one week. If you do Project A first and then Project B, you will finish Project A after one week, and Project B after two weeks, with an average project completion time of one and a half weeks. Now suppose you work back and forth from Project A to B every couple of hours. Then, both projects will be finished after two weeks. Multitasking delays Project A for a whole week with no benefit to project B.

In case you think this is just theoretical, my fellow economists Decio Coviello, Andrea Ichino et Nicola Persico explored the impact of multitasking on the ability of judges to close cases in a reasonable time frame. They found that when judges were assigned additional cases to handle, all cases got delayed. This shows that, when you have more projects and you multitask, the time to completion for all of your projects suffers.
Multitasking impairs your ability to remember information.
When you switch from one task to the other, it is hard to keep in mind information about both tasks. For example, researchers asked students to do a small amount of web research while following a lecture. They found that students who did web research got lower scores on a questionnaire about the contents of the lecture.

What this means for you — and your hiring process

Multitasking not only delays project completion but also lowers the quality of the finished product. When a job candidate brags about multitasking, you should think twice about hiring them: Remember that multitasking is actually less productive. While it is not always possible to avoid multitasking, limiting task juggling will increase employees’ productivity and help them get things done faster. Have conversations with your candidates to find out what they actually mean when they say they’re a pro multitasker — and get the information you need to make more informed decisions about whether he or she has the focus to complete tasks well and in a timely manner.

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What Do You Do When Your Best Employee Leaves?

October 25th, 2016 Comments off
employee leaves

Every team or department is made up of individuals who have their own unique strengths and weaknesses. Yet there’s usually one or two workers who rise to the top; their work – and work ethic – stand out from the rest.

So, what do you do when your star employee announces he or she is leaving for another opportunity?

You knew deep down it was likely to happen – in today’s market, top talent is in high demand. Do you find a way to try and make the person stay? Or do you focus on recruiting another stand out? Here are some options to consider when your best worker leaves.

Contemplate a Counteroffer

If you believe the employee is worth fighting for, work with HR to put together a counteroffer. Consider the reasons your employee might be leaving, and develop a strategy to convince the person it’s worth it to stay. While this may include higher compensation or more appealing benefits, be sure to address the other factors in play – such as the employee no longer feeling challenged in his or her role.

If you go this route, do so with caution. Remember that there’s a reason the employee invested time into finding a new job, so chances are anything you offer the employee may just act as a Band-Aid instead of a permanent fix. And consider how you will feel about the employee if he or she stays – will your relationship be different? Will the trust disappear? If the dynamics are going to change, it may not end up being worth the work.

Take the Exit Interview Seriously

If the counteroffer is a no-go, or you decide it’s better to just let go, it’s still important to get to the root of why your employee wants to leave. While exit interviews can sometimes be an afterthought, why not take advantage of an opportunity to get real (or as real as possible) feedback on some of the grievances this employee – and likely other employees – have about the team or the company?

Encourage the employee to be candid with HR, and let them know you truly value his or her feedback and plan to put it into action. And don’t just pay the employee lip service – if there are valuable insights gleaned from the conversation, find ways you can apply those lessons to your current employees to hopefully prevent another top worker from leaving.

Talk to Your Team

Losing a star employee isn’t just a blow to you – it’s a blow to your whole team. Not only will they worry their workload is going to increase or the team dynamic will shift, it also may make them question their own situations – and whether they should be looking elsewhere, too.

Instead of brushing the departure under the rug, meet with your team and reassure them that everything will be operating as normal and you’re working to replace the ex-employee as quickly as possible. And considering that morale might be down, it might be a good time to plan an outing or activity that could help rally the team together.

Look Internally to Fill the Position

While it may seem like no one else on your team compares to your No. 1 worker, and your first instinct may be to look externally to fill the role, consider first looking internally. Perhaps there’s someone who has the potential to really shine but was never given the platform to do so. This could be your chance to nurture that person’s career while also saving time and money on recruiting an external candidate.

Consider the Positives

It may be hard to say goodbye to your star employee, but it may end up being a blessing in disguise. No manager wants someone on their team who doesn’t want to be there. Even if the person is a top employee, sooner or later his or her unhappiness will start to show in his or her work.

When your best worker leaves, consider it an opportunity to start fresh and build an even stronger team.

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This Most Absurd Excuses Workers Used to Call in Sick This Year

October 20th, 2016 Comments off
callinginsick

No one should be forced to go into work when they are sick — not only is it bad for the employee’s health and productivity, it’s also bad for the health of everyone around that person. But some employees are going to great lengths to get a free, personal day off work.

Slightly more than a third of workers (35 percent) said they have called in to work sick when they were feeling just fine in the past year. When asked why they called in sick when they were feeling well, 28 percent said they just didn’t feel like going in to work and 27 percent took the day off to attend a doctor’s appointment. Another 24 percent said they needed to just relax and 18 percent needed to catch up on sleep. Meanwhile, 11 percent took the day off to run personal errands.

Checking on the Check Up

Though the majority of employers (67 percent) give their employees the benefit of the doubt, 33 percent say they have checked to see if an employee was telling the truth in one way or another. Among employers who have checked up on an employee who called in sick, asking to see a doctor’s note was the most popular way to find out if the absence was legit (68 percent), followed by calling the employee (43 percent). As many as 18 percent of employers went the extra mile and drove past the employee’s house.

More than 1 in 5 employers (22 percent) say they have fired an employee for calling in sick with a fake excuse, on par with last year.

The Craziest Excuses for Calling in Sick

When asked to share the most dubious excuses employees have given for calling in sick, employers reported hearing the following real-life examples:


How to Stop Employees From Fibbing

Employers should take a look at what’s keeping employees off the job and then decide what they can do to help. A company’s policy on taking time off should reflect the needs of the staff.

The CareerBuilder study found that 47 percent of employers do not have a flexible PTO program where sick days, vacation days and personal days are all lumped in together. Inflexible scheduling may put an employee in the position of having to fake a cold and take an entire day off when he or she only needed a few hours to take an elderly parent to a doctor’s appointment.

Of course, as noted in the crazy excuses above, employees don’t always have a good excuse for lying – most often they simply don’t feel like coming in –  but personal needs and stress account for a large number of unscheduled absences, so being flexible in allowing workers to meet demands on the home front is important. Workers in turn are more appreciative of the company and more willing to go the extra mile.

What’s the most absurd excuse you’ve ever heard when an employee has called in sick? Tweet us at @CareerBuilder

Are Happier Employees More Productive?

October 4th, 2016 Comments off
Are happier employees more productive?

Google is known for offering employees perks that will make them happier, such as great food and play rooms. This strategy is based on the belief that happier people are more productive. Is it worth investing in your employees’ happiness? And, as a recruiter, should you prefer happier candidates?

A recent study by Oswald, Proto and Sgroi published in the leading journal in labor economics in 2015 offers some answers based on a series of clever experiments:
1. Showing employees a comedy clip makes them 13 percent more productive.
In this experiment, the researchers showed employees a comedy clip. Not everyone found it funny, but on average there was a 13 percent increase in productivity. The increase in productivity was higher among those people whose mood was boosted the most by the clip.

2. Free food and drinks also boost productivity by 15 percent.
Researchers gave workers chocolate bars, fruit, and water, and 10 minutes to enjoy them prior to the work session. Getting food and drink made people 15 percent more productive compared to those who did not receive this benefit. This result confirms that Google’s strategy of offering good food may well be an effective way to increase productivity.
3. People who are unhappy in their personal lives are less productive at work.
Are unhappy people less productive? In this experiment, researchers compared the work performance of students from the same university. Students who had recently had a death or illness in the family reported lower levels of happiness and were 10 percent less productive than students who did not experience such sad events.

Should you therefore invest in free food and drinks for employees, or perhaps allow more internet browsing to lift people’s moods? This is probably going to make them more productive if they get working right after the benefit is given. What is unclear is whether the cost to the employer is worth the productivity boost. If you find low cost ways of boosting the mood of your employees, go for it: Everyone will benefit, employees and business alike.

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9 Incredible Employee Perks That Really Exist

August 31st, 2016 Comments off
Low angle view of group of cheerful business friends having fun while behaving childish in the office. They are competing on a chair, toy car and push scooter.

They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but try telling that to the employees at Airbnb, Facebook and Google, where gourmet meals come with the territory. Free gourmet meals may seem like an over-the-top employee perk to some, but that’s tame compared to what other companies offer. From free booze to on-site massages, the following perks put free coffee and casual Fridays to shame. Check out nine more of the most incredible employee perks that actually exist in today’s workplace.

Happy hour — at any hour

Drinking on the job isn’t only allowed at some companies, it’s encouraged – in moderation, of course. Whether it’s holding “Whiskey Fridays,” providing beer vending machines on site, or simply giving employees 24/7 access to fully stocked bars, companies of all sizes and industries — including Dropbox, Arnold Worldwide and Eli Lilly and Co. — are using alcohol as an incentive to work long hours and come into the office (as opposed to telecommuting). Not only do employees appreciate the chance to kick back with a cold one during the day, employers have found that letting employees socialize over beer results in team-bonding and spurs new ideas.

Nap time

Ever fallen asleep on the job (or come close to it)? Arianna Huffington understands. The president of The Huffington Post might be the most outspoken advocate for napping at work. She’s not alone, however: Google, Zappos, Uber and PwC are also among the growing list of companies that accommodate employees who want to catch up on their zzz’s during the workday. (And many employees do: According to a recent CareerBuilder study, 61 percent of workers feel they don’t get enough sleep.) Not only does this perk benefit employees, it also helps the bottom line: companies lose an estimated $86.9 billion worth of productivity due to lack of sleep.

High times

Denver-based Flowhub, which provides software for the cannabis industry, lets employees consume marijuana at work. While employees can’t smoke in the building, they can bring in cannabis-infused edibles, sodas and juices. Two nearby startups, High There! and MassRoots, also allow employees to use pot at work. According to CNNMoney, employees are trusted not to over-do it on consumption, and most use happens later in the day or during brainstorming sessions. (While several other companies allow employees to do weed at work — both for recreation and medical purposes — they decline to publicize it for fear of damaging relationships with potential investors.)

Egg-freezing
Not long ago, Facebook and Apple made headlines when they announced they would start offering egg-freezing benefits as a way to attract recruit female employees. Recently, music streaming service company Spotify began offering egg freezing and fertility assistance as well.

Gender reassignment

Seven years ago, only 49 major U.S. employers offered transgender-inclusive health care benefits. Today, that number is more than 500. Apple, Chevron, General Mills, Dow Chemical, American Airlines, Kellogg and Sprint are among the companies that have expanded their health insurance policies in recent years to cover some of the costs of gender reassignment surgeries. Other types of coverage may include mental health counseling, hormone therapy, medical visits and other treatments related to gender transition or sex reassignment.

Paid sabbaticals

Paid sabbaticals aren’t just for college professors any more. At financial advisory company Deloitte, employees can choose from a partially paid three- to six-month sabbaticals to pursue personal or professional growth opportunities or an unpaid one-month leave to go and do whatever they want. Genentech employees who have worked for the company for six years get a six week paid sabbatical, while The Boston Consulting Group offer eight weeks for employees who have been with the company five years. The Container Store, REI and Baker Donelson are just a few more on the growing list of companies offering this remarkable benefit.

Concierge services
Who couldn’t use a personal assistant these days? At some companies, employees get the next best thing. SC Johnson & Son, Accenture, Hyatt Hotels and Nordstrom are just a few of the companies that provide concierge services to save employees time and help them juggle work and personal lives. Services vary by company, but range from dry cleaning to travel planning.

On-site massages

Companies like Activision Blizzard, Cisco Systems, Scripps Health and PwC have two things in common: All offer employees on-site massages, and all made Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list this year. Coincidence? Several companies offer on-site massages as a way to reward employees and help them recharge after a long workday. And while a massage may seem like a frivolous perk, companies see it as an investment in employees’ health, helping to relieve stress and back pain (which can come from long periods of sitting at a desk) – and the bottom line. Healthier workers are, after all, happier workers and more productive workers.

Puppies!

Allowing employees to bring their pets to work not only frees them of the burden of finding pet-sitters and dog-walkers (and the guilt of leaving them home alone), it also adds an element of fun to the office. It may come as no surprise that companies like Nestle Purina PetCare, Rover.com and Petplan have pet-friendly offices (after all, animals are their business), but companies of all industries and sizes — including Eventbrite, Procore Technologies, Glassdoor and Payscape — say yes to pets at the office.

These are just a few of the ways employers are getting creative in order to stand out from their competitors and attract and retain in-demand talent. What are you offering employees and candidates to stay competitive? Tell us about your incredible employee perks at @CBforEmployers

 

Millennials: They’re Just Like Us

August 12th, 2016 Comments off
Millennials: They're Just Like Us

There are so many stereotypes floating around about millennials — that they come off as needy, lazy and entitled, to name just a few. While many of these are rooted in fiction, what’s important to note is that at the end of the day, they have the same underlying values and crave the same need for acceptance and recognition as every other generation in the workplace.

Here are some gifs that prove that millennials are just like us.

They are not lazy (like some people think) — they just need the right motivation, just like anyone else. Yes, a paycheck is obviously important, but it’s not the only thing millennials look for; they want to be inspired and they want a sense of personal fulfillment in their careers.

millennials

They might seem like the kids who crash at mom and dad’s so they don’t have to pay rent, but millennials work hard and prioritize their education. In fact, more millennials have obtained college degrees than any other generation of young adults, according to this report. And they are are “sizing up to be the most educated generation in history,” according to this report.

millennials

They are on an ongoing journey of self-discovery and want to make an impact in the world (and who doesn’t!). According to a 2014 White House report:

Quality of life appears to be a focus of this generation: Millennials value staying close to family and friends, having free time for recreation, and working in creative jobs. However, they also want to make a positive social impact on their own children and communities, as well as on society as a whole.

millennials

They get their daily news first thing in the morning — just in a different way. According to research from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation: “Millennial’s main sources for news are television (65%) and the Internet (59%). Lagging behind are newspapers (24%) and radio (18%).”

millennials

They don’t want to simply coast through life — like many people assume — they want to do meaningful work that challenges them. “[Millennials] look for interesting and challenging work, personal development, a custom career plan, and an organization that reflects their values,” according to this report.

millennials

They may sometimes come off as entitled — but what they really want is to be recognized for putting in a hard day’s work just like everyone else and know that their efforts are going to be rewarded. They may just voice it more…

millennials

There is a sense of togetherness and camaraderie among millennials in the workplace, and they feel a strong sense of community — which some may find surprising. According to Forbes:

Millennials who stay at their jobs for more than five years are passionate about their work. Another reason Millennials stay? The bonds with their co-workers and the belief in their company’s mission and purpose. Millennials want to volunteer together and feel connected through a shared passion for their company’s cause work, ideally through initiatives that help their surrounding community.

Millennials have often been referred to as the generation that doesn’t live to work but works to live. But at the core, they want the same thing every other generation has also striven to: a healthy work-life balance to live a life outside the cubicles. According to a Washington Post report:

Survey after survey … show[s] that what millennials most want is flexibility in where, when and how they work. Millennials as well as men were most likely in the survey to say that they would take a pay cut, forgo a promotion or be willing to move to manage work-life demands better.

Tweet at @CBforEmployers: Do you agree that millennials are more similar to other generations that people give them credit for? What are some of the biggest misconceptions of this generation?

Millennials: They’re Just Like Us

August 12th, 2016 Comments off
Millennials: They're Just Like Us

There are so many stereotypes floating around about millennials — that they come off as needy, lazy and entitled, to name just a few. While many of these are rooted in fiction, what’s important to note is that at the end of the day, they have the same underlying values and crave the same need for acceptance and recognition as every other generation in the workplace.

Here are some gifs that prove that millennials are just like us.

They are not lazy (like some people think) — they just need the right motivation, just like anyone else. Yes, a paycheck is obviously important, but it’s not the only thing millennials look for; they want to be inspired and they want a sense of personal fulfillment in their careers.

millennials

They might seem like the kids who crash at mom and dad’s so they don’t have to pay rent, but millennials work hard and prioritize their education. In fact, more millennials have obtained college degrees than any other generation of young adults, according to this report. And they are are “sizing up to be the most educated generation in history,” according to this report.

millennials

They are on an ongoing journey of self-discovery and want to make an impact in the world (and who doesn’t!). According to a 2014 White House report:

Quality of life appears to be a focus of this generation: Millennials value staying close to family and friends, having free time for recreation, and working in creative jobs. However, they also want to make a positive social impact on their own children and communities, as well as on society as a whole.

millennials

They get their daily news first thing in the morning — just in a different way. According to research from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation: “Millennial’s main sources for news are television (65%) and the Internet (59%). Lagging behind are newspapers (24%) and radio (18%).”

millennials

They don’t want to simply coast through life — like many people assume — they want to do meaningful work that challenges them. “[Millennials] look for interesting and challenging work, personal development, a custom career plan, and an organization that reflects their values,” according to this report.

millennials

They may sometimes come off as entitled — but what they really want is to be recognized for putting in a hard day’s work just like everyone else and know that their efforts are going to be rewarded. They may just voice it more…

millennials

There is a sense of togetherness and camaraderie among millennials in the workplace, and they feel a strong sense of community — which some may find surprising. According to Forbes:

Millennials who stay at their jobs for more than five years are passionate about their work. Another reason Millennials stay? The bonds with their co-workers and the belief in their company’s mission and purpose. Millennials want to volunteer together and feel connected through a shared passion for their company’s cause work, ideally through initiatives that help their surrounding community.

Millennials have often been referred to as the generation that doesn’t live to work but works to live. But at the core, they want the same thing every other generation has also striven to: a healthy work-life balance to live a life outside the cubicles. According to a Washington Post report:

Survey after survey … show[s] that what millennials most want is flexibility in where, when and how they work. Millennials as well as men were most likely in the survey to say that they would take a pay cut, forgo a promotion or be willing to move to manage work-life demands better.

Tweet at @CBforEmployers: Do you agree that millennials are more similar to other generations that people give them credit for? What are some of the biggest misconceptions of this generation?

How to Help Employees Overcome Financial Stress

August 11th, 2016 Comments off
Business man showing close up his empty pocket

Even in a post-recession environment, many working Americans are still struggling with anxiety over their finances. Three-quarters of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck to make ends meet, according to a survey from CareerBuilder, and while making ends meet is a struggle for many post-recession, those with minimum wage jobs continue to be hit the hardest. Of workers who currently have a minimum wage job or have held one in the past, 66 percent said they couldn’t make ends meet, and 50 percent said they had to work more than one job to make it work.

Workers may not be taking full advantage of their available saving opportunities, either. According to the survey, 16 percent of all workers have reduced their 401k contribution and/or personal savings in the last year, 36 percent do not participate in a 401k plan, IRA or comparable retirement plan, and 25 percent have not set aside any savings each month in the last year.

Perhaps in effort to help struggling employees, employers are taking a stance and advocating for higher pay. Not only do the majority of employers think minimum wage should be raised, but more employers than last year feel this way. Only 5 percent of all employers believe the federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour) is fair. The majority (67 percent) feel a fair minimum wage is $10 or more per hour, up from 61 percent last year; and 15 percent say a fair minimum wage is $15 or more per hour, up from 11 percent last year. Sixty-four percent of employers believe minimum wage should be increased in their state, up from 62 percent in 2014.

But although 67 percent of employers feel a fair minimum wage is $10 or more per hour, of those hiring minimum wage workers this year, almost half (48 percent) said they’re going to pay less than $10.

  • Less than $8:00: 11 percent
  • $8.00-$8.99 per hour: 23 percent
  • $9.00-$9.99 per hour: 14 percent
  • $10.00-$10.99 per hour: 21 percent
  • $11.00-$11.99 per hour: 7 percent
  • $12.00-$12.99 per hour: 8 percent
  • $13.00-$13.99 per hour: 6 percent
  • $14.00-$14.99 per hour: 5 percent
  • $15.00 or more per hour: 6 percent


How You Fit In

If you want your business to run smoothly, consider how you can unobtrusively help your employees with their finances. While employers are not always able to raise wages, many have found ways to offer additional perks or benefits that can help employees who are struggling. For example, offering financial counseling as part of their retirement savings package or even looking at local perks, such as movie ticket discounts or deals with nearby restaurants.

There’s a reason companies invest in employee wellness programs: They are good for the company and good for employees. Investing in financial health is similar. Here are a few other things employers can do to help employees be more financially stable:

  • Host workshops on topics such as personal budgeting, credit managing, estate planning, estimating retirement savings and investment basics.
  • Hire experts to provide detailed information on complicated finance issues, such as an attorney speaking to employees about creating a will.
  • Organize lunch-and-learn seminars about financial topics such as understanding the stock market.
  • Provide one-on-one counseling to discuss monthly budgeting and contributions to a 401(k).

 

The best way to know which benefits employees want most is to ask. Listening to their needs and trying to tailor benefits goes a long way toward helping employees feel more financially secure – and more loyal to the company.

15 Recruitment Emojis That Don’t Exist — But Should

August 10th, 2016 Comments off
15 Recruitment Emojis That Don’t Exist — But Should

First there were Bitmojis, then there were Kimojisbut where are work-related emojis you can share (without getting in trouble with HR)? Fortunately for you, we created a brand new set of (totally SFW) recruitment emojis to share with colleagues on a variety of occasions.

So feel free to copy and paste the emoji that best suits your current mood and send it to your recruiter friends who can relate.

When you just need to vent…

recruitment emojis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you are experiencing a case of data overload…

recruitment emojis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you are on a budget…

recruitment emojis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you come back from a conference with all this swag feeling like a million bucks…

recruitment emojis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you realize there simply is not enough time in the day…

recruitment emojis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When all you want to do is take a nap…

recruitment emojis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you need a little bit of peace and quiet because you’re on a call…

recruitment emojis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you’re searching hard for the “purple squirrel” (a.k.a. a candidate who is seemingly impossible to find)…

recruitment emojis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you’re expected to be a sourcing wizard…

recruitment emojis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you’re on the lookout for a good ATS… (cough, Talentstream Recruit, cough…)

recruitment emojis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you’ve got your stack of resumes handy and you’re ready to start perusing…

recruitment emojis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When a candidate you were excited about is no-call, no-show…

recruitment emojis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you’re trying to keep your hiring manager happy…

recruitment emojis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you want to give yourself a pat on the back because you just found the perfect candidate…

recruitment emojis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you want to shout to the world that you just made a hire…

recruitment emojis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did we miss any emojis you think should be on the list? Tweet your work emoji ideas to @CBforEmployers right now!

Compete in the 2016 Office Summer Games — And Win Prizes!

August 1st, 2016 Comments off
CareerBuilder 2016 Office Summer Games

With the 2016 Summer Olympics just around the corner, we wanted to expand the friendly competition to the workplace as well by officially kicking off CareerBuilder’s 2016 Office Summer Games.

And we want you and your entire team to join in!

Channel your inner Michael Phelps and go for the gold in our 2016 Office Summer Games contest — today and throughout the Olympic season. McKayla Maroney may not be impressed… but your co-workers sure will be. The best part is, in addition to bragging rights, you can also win actual prizes.

Here are 3 easy steps to enter:

Step 1: Pick one or all of the following challenges and invite your team or co-workers to compete.

Step 2: Share your pictures with us on Instagram – you have to use the hashtag #OfficeOlympics and tag @CareerBuilder in your photos to be eligible to win.

Step 3: There will be a daily chance to win and the lucky winners will walk away with official Olympics merchandise including t-shirts, track jackets and more.

What are you waiting for? With a little practice, you’ll be ready for the games…

The Caffeine Dash

Who doesn’t need coffee on a Monday morning (or really any morning), amirite? In this event, you and your co-workers will pull a Usain Bolt and test your speed to the finish line by making a 100-meter dash to your break room to fix a cup of coffee and run over to the boss’s desk to drop it off — all while trying not to spill the hot coffee all over yourself.

office summer games

The ID Card Toss

We’re bringing the simple fun of a good ol’ game of Cornhole to the office. Take aim at your competitors — and the target — and use your building IDs as the beanbags. This is one game that never gets old.

office summer games

Office Archery

Summer Office Games just wouldn’t be the same without a friendly game of archery. All you need for this contest is a set of sturdy rubber bands that will serve as arrows and a board or screen to use as the target. You can set the rules amongst yourselves — but no cheating!

office summer games

The Corporate Climb

In this event, instead of climbing up the corporate ladder, you and your co-workers will channel your inner Michael Phelps for speed and stamina and arrange for a race up a flight of stairs in your office building. Not only will you be better prepared for a fire drill in the future, but you will also have the sweet taste of victory when you beat your co-workers to the top. If you don’t win, you’ll just be out of luck and out of breath.

office summer games

The Desk Chair Sprint

Think of this as an obstacle course for teams of two to race. One member of each team will push his or her teammate through the course on a rolling desk chair. (If you’re lucky, you’ve probably already had some practice in this area from a slow day at the office.) No Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan rivalries here — just some friendly competition!

office summer games

The Summer Games 2016 Awards Ceremony

Finally, the winners and runners-up can be crowned and awarded “medals” in a lunchtime awards ceremony. Even better, try to get lunch expensed as a thank you to everyone who participated!

Winners

 

Host your own Summer Games in your office! Share your #OfficeOlympics pics with us on Instagram for your chance to win fun swag and prizes! Be sure to use the hashtag #OfficeOlympics and tag @CareerBuilder in your photos to be eligible to win. Please read the terms and conditions here.

9-to-5 Workday is Extinct, According to Most Workers

July 21st, 2016 Comments off
Business woman drinking coffee to get some energy for working overtime

Most of us still think of a full-time employee as someone who works Monday through Friday for eight hours a day. However, according to CareerBuilder’s latest survey, this definition may be outdated.

According to the survey, nearly 3 in 5 workers (59 percent) are of the opinion that the traditional 9-to-5 workday is a thing of the past – and not because of flexible schedule perks. Nearly half (45 percent) of workers say they work on work-related assignments during their off hours, and 49 percent say they check or answer emails after they leave the office for the night.

 

Who’s Putting in Extra Work?

Despite a very similar percentage across genders believing that the typical 9-to-5 workday is an antique (58 percent of men; 60 percent of women), men remain more likely to complete work-related tasks outside of business hours.

Forty-nine percent of men say they work outside of office hours, versus only 42 percent of women. Men are also more likely to remain tied to the office when they leave – 54 percent say they answer emails outside of office hours, as opposed to 43 percent of women.

 

Next Generation of Workers

In terms of age groups, older workers are more of the opinion that the traditional 8-hour day has had its day. Sixty-five percent of workers ages 45-54 and 61 percent of workers ages 55 and up agreed that the 9-to-5 day is a thing of the past, compared to only 42 percent of workers ages 18 to 24.

Still, workers 55 and older are also more likely to put thoughts of work aside at the end of the day, with 60 percent saying they don’t keep working after closing time, and 54 percent saying they don’t check their work emails after office hours.

This is compared to only 52 percent of workers in the 18 to 24 age group who say they don’t keep working after business hours. Even fewer (41 percent) say they do not check or answer work emails outside the office.

 

Technology’s Influence

Much of this increase in overlap of work into personal time can be explained by today’s “always-connected” culture.

“While smartphones and other technology allow us to remain connected to the office outside of normal business hours, it may not always be a good thing, as workers are having trouble disconnecting from their jobs,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder. “Not surprisingly, younger workers ‘attached to their mobile devices’ are more likely to work and check emails past business hours, while older workers feel less pressure to check-in after they have put in a full day of work.”

 

For more on the death of the 9-to-5 workday, check out the full report.

Can Changing Your Routine Change the Way You Work?

July 8th, 2016 Comments off
Man Hand drawing Old Way or New Way concept with marker on visual screen. Stock Image

Roughly a year ago, a few CareerBuilder employees embarked on various workplace challenges to see what would happen when they stopped being polite and started being real  changed up their usual routines and tried something new for a week. Would messing with the status quo affect their workplace productivity, mood or overall success? Would anything change at all? Would everything change? These are their stories.

Challenge 1: A Night Owl Tries Morning Workouts

On a normal day, writer Matt Tarpey has to set four different alarms to make sure he gets up in time for work. So when he vowed to get up every morning for a week to work out before work, he had no idea if he would be able to pull it off.

The verdict: Prior to the challenge, Matt was well aware of the supposed benefits of morning workouts – from increased energy to a better mood – but after putting it to the test himself, what Matt mostly felt was…tired. “Perhaps a week isn’t long enough for a habit to really take hold,” Matt pondered at the time. “Perhaps it would have gone better if I hadn’t gone five days in a row right off the bat…but one thing is for certain – I’m definitely not going to keep working out in the mornings before work. At least not every day.” I recently caught up with Matt to see if he’s changed his tune in the last year. Here’s what he had to say.

Other than waking up early, what was the hardest thing for you with the challenge? I wish I had come up with a better system to chart my progress during the week. I should have scheduled more mental check-ins throughout each day to get a more accurate picture of what was happening to my mind.

Was there anything you liked about the challenge? On the days I rode my bike to work I really looked forward to riding home rather than cramming into a crowded train car. My normal commute is entirely subway, so that extra little bit of sun on the way to and from the office was always a nice change of pace.

Did you at least enjoy having your nights free? It was nice to have exercise already out of the way every evening. Early in the week I went out with friends a few times and caught up on some reading. It also gave me one less excuse to work on some personal projects I had been letting simmer on the back burner for a while.

Would you do this challenge again? If so, what would you do differently? There’s a good chance I’ll come to regret saying this, but I would be open to trying this challenge again. One big change I’d want to make is in scheduling. If I were to try getting into morning workouts like this again, I would want to spread it out over two weeks and give myself a couple of mornings off. I’m still doubtful that it would create any lasting change in my sleeping or exercise habits, but I’m still a little curious. At the very least it might be funny to see me try to function on extremely low sleep.

Did completing this challenge inspire you to challenge yourself in other ways? I have been waking up earlier on weekends than I used to. I can’t say for certain whether this challenge played a part in that change, but it’s certainly possible.

Have you worked out in the morning at all since the challenge ended? Not even once.


Challenge 2: Getting Rosetta Stoned

In preparation for an upcoming trip to Paris, social media strategist Greg Miller attempted to channel his inner Gerard Depardieu by learning to speak French – in just a week.

The verdict: After a short-lived fling with Rosetta Stone, Greg found an app called Duolingo, which made learning much easier and more. A week later, he was already 8 percent fluent in French, which he decided was good enough to get him around Paris just like a lazy American. So is Greg still living la vie en rose about his chances of becoming fluent in French? Here’s what he had to say:

Other than your trip to Paris, were there other reasons you chose to learn French? It definitely started by planning to go to Paris, but I have always wanted to learn more languages. Like most American kids I learned Spanish when I was too young to appreciate it. Now I am jealous of multi-lingual people, and strive to learn any language I can to make myself more adaptable in any situation. Since my role at CareerBuilder is global, I have tried to pick up as much as I can in a few different languages. I have found that people are much friendlier and willing to listen if they see that I am trying to relate to them by saying a few words in their language, especially the French.

Did you continue trying to learn French once the challenge was over? I did for a while. I have let it go lately mostly because I am busy, but since I have very little chance to practice it, I may move on to something else.

What was the hardest part of the challenge? Sticking with it, by far. Before the challenge, I was learning a little every week, but trying to do it every day began to feel like a chore really quick. I had a hard time staying motivated.

Was there anything about the challenge you particularly enjoyed? I did enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that Duolingo created.  I kind of felt cool being able to say that I was a certain percentage fluent in a language via LinkedIn.

Did doing the challenge inspire you to test yourself in other ways? It definitely made me think about my professional and life goals.  I think I have accomplished a lot in my career so far, and I have reached a point where I need to create even bigger goals for myself. I haven’t figured out what all of those are yet, but I think that experience will stick with me and drive me to keep pushing.


Challenge 3: Guess Who’s Cooking for Dinner?

It’s not that senior writer Deanna Hartley can’t cook (she makes a mean out-of-the-box mac and cheese), it’s just that her busy schedule left her little time or energy to plan a Rachel Ray-worthy meal every night (that is, unless she was willing to give up her weeknight TV addiction first). So when it came time for her challenge, the choice was obvious: cook dinner every weeknight for a week.

The verdict: There were definitely a few hiccups along the way—marital disagreements over the menu, a botched Peapod order, etc. – but in the end, Deanna pulled through and completed the challenge. She even found she sort of enjoyed cooking…just not as much as a good “Dancing with the Stars” finale.

Will she be giving Rachel Ray a run for her money any time soon? Here’s what I found out:

Was there anything about the challenge you liked? I enjoyed attempting to take on something outside of my comfort zone and to challenge myself to keep going after the initial one-week period. You know that saying “I like to have written”? I guess I like to have cooked because it was very satisfying to sit down at the dinner table each night, exhausted as I was. And my husband helped out with the dishes, so that was a win.

What was the hardest part of the challenge? I hadn’t anticipated the prep portion/meal planning being the hardest part, but it was. It took a lot longer than I had anticipated and once I had nailed down the plan down to the last detail, it became a bit easier. It was also challenging to try to accommodate two very different diets and tastes while trying to keep it to a minimum number of dishes. I also paid so much attention to the entrees while planning that I totally forgot about side dishes, so I had to go back and re-think some of my original plans.

Did anything stick with you? Did anything surprise you about the challenge – good or bad? It definitely taught me to be flexible – not only in terms of compromising on certain meals, but also to have back-up plans because something will always go wrong. In this case, my Peapod delivery was a few hours later than I had anticipated, so I had to figure out a different meal to make that day with the ingredients I already had handy (it was between that or starting to cook at 9 and I chose the former).

Have you tried to cook anything since? I do actually enjoy cooking over the weekend when I have some downtime and there isn’t pressure to get everything done by a certain time. But since then, I haven’t ever cooked on a weeknight.

Did doing this challenge inspire you to challenge yourself in other ways? I guess it showed me that even if I despised doing something, I could still stick with it if I set a goal for myself.


Challenge 4: Taking the ‘Comfort’ Out of ‘Comfort Zone’

For his challenge, editorial manager Anthony Balderrama chose a “beer flight for the soul,” opting to embark on five smaller challenges – as opposed to one big one – throughout the week that would force him outside of his comfort zone. Day one: dressing in business attire; day two: hugging people (don’t tell HR); day three: drinking coffee; day four: foregoing social media; day five: no listening to music.

The verdict: If a week of pushing his boundaries taught him anything, it’s this: “I can do these things and survive. I can also fall down a flight of stairs and survive. It doesn’t mean I should ever do either on purpose.”

When I caught up with Anthony to find out if he had any residual PTSD, here’s what he had to say:

What did you hate most about the challenge?  Waking up every day and thinking, “Ugh, I have to do something else terrible today.” I felt a bit like Sisyphus rolling the boulder where I’d get through one day and feel accomplished and then remember I had to start all over again.

Did wearing a suit (or your version of it) make you feel more professional or productive at all? It really didn’t have an effect on my actual work. More than anything I spent more time explaining to people why I was “so dressed up” than anything else.

Did you feel you got a lot more done not being on social media? Do you check social media less now? Initially I didn’t do much extra work because I was repeatedly going to check my phone or my social accounts—and had to stop myself. After a couple hours of that, I was able to focus more on work. By the end of the day I didn’t miss social all that much. I did feel very out of touch with current events since I’m used to constantly getting news from Twitter. Since the project I have occasionally forced myself to avoid social media for at least a couple hours at a time just to remind myself I can do it. I should probably do it more, really.

What was the supposed benefit of giving up music for a day? Were you more distracted without noise around you? Because I listen to music all the time (at home, commuting, at work) I thought maybe I was letting it distract me from work—similar to my theory about social media. That’s definitely not the case. I really do get distracted when there’s nearby noise. Everything from people talking to office doors opening and closing. Plus, when I would try to edit articles or write, I had a hard time focusing. Of all the challenges, that’s the one that left me feeling defeated at the end of the day.

Was there anything you liked about the challenge? Aside from the joy it brought my co-workers as I suffered on a daily basis, I did like testing my limits. It was satisfying to think that these little mental crutches aren’t necessary for me to do my job well or get through the day. I also hate repetition, so I enjoyed the simplicity of just doing something new, which isn’t always easy when you work in a 9-5/cubicle job.

Did doing the challenge inspire you to challenge yourself in other ways? When there’s some small annoyance I have to do—like go to a dinner party where I hardly know people or if I leave my headphones at the office over the weekend—I do find myself randomly thinking, “Don’t be a baby—you can do this. You drank coffee and hugged people—that’s about as bad as it can get.” I realize it’s a pretty low threshold of suffering in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a quick way to get myself to shut up and stop whining.

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Up to 3 Hours Each Workday Lost to Smartphones, Other Distractions

June 27th, 2016 Comments off
Candidates Use 16 Different Resources During Job Search

They may be at work, but that doesn’t mean employees are actually working. According to a new survey from CareerBuilder, more than 1 in 5 employers estimate their employees are only productive for five hours of the day, thanks in large part to distractions such as smart phones, the Internet, and other co-workers. Of these distractions, mobile phones and texting habits present the biggest obstacle to productivity. When asked to name the biggest productivity killers in the office, employers cited the following:

  • Cell phones/texting: 55 percent
  • The internet: 41 percent
  • Gossip: 39 percent
  • Social media: 37 percent
  • Co-workers dropping by: 27 percent
  • Smoke or snack breaks: 27 percent
  • Email: 26 percent
  • Meetings 24 percent
  • Noisy co-workers: 20 percent

What Does This Mean For You?

While you can’t control what workers do — and attempting to ban cell phone usage, the internet and social media may force employees to look elsewhere for less rigid employers — you can manage it. Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer of CareerBuilder, suggests addressing the issue head on. “Have an open dialogue with employees about tech distractions,” she says. “Acknowledge their existence and discuss challenges/solutions to keeping productivity up.”

Want more insights from the study? Check out “What Are Workers Wasting Time On? Top 10 Employee Productivity Killers”